Expressions of joy were muted on Wall Street at Friday's release of the latest report from the Conference Board (CB) showing its Leading Economic Index (LEI) jumping 0.9 percent in October, following just a 0.1 percent gain in September. Economic analysts had a field day trying to read the CB’s tea leaves heading into the Christmas holidays and the new year.
It’s official. The U.S. federal debt has crossed another unbelievable line: $15 trillion.
The Treasury Department reported the news on Wednesday, and various sources are reporting different figures for the level of debt person and per family.
But the discrepancies between those figures are a distinction without a difference. The United States of America is drowning in debt. And it may never recover.
A year ago Dagong Global Credit Rating reduced its rating on the sovereign debt of the United States from AA to A+. In August it dropped it another notch to A. In an interview on Saturday the agency’s chairman, Guan Jianzhong, said it is nearly inevitable that the agency will further reduce its rating of U.S. sovereign debt: "We are continuing to monitor this closely. First of all we need to look at this year’s economic growth [in the US] and then predict next year’s trends. If in the year 2012 the overall projections are not very good, meaning that the sources of payment – and liabilities – are bad and cannot be changed, or change for the worse, then we will lower the rating once again."
In late October White House Chief of Staff William Daley (left) ordered a complete review of all loan guarantees the Department of Energy has made to various energy projects. The review “is a tacit acknowledgement that the loan program [that supported the now-bankrupt energy company Solyndra]…has raised enough internal concern that an outside assessment is necessary…”, according the Washington Post.
In his Forbes magazine article published Thursday, Nathan Lewis makes it sound easy to get back to a gold standard. After all, it has been accomplished numerous times in history around the world, including in America following the Civil War.
CNN’s article by Charles Riley quoted several of the Republican candidates for President out of context and then asked several unknown Keynesian economists — Keynesians believe in growing and empowering the government to stimulate the economy — to comment on those quotes. The result was a one-sided dismissal of anything the candidates had to say about the economy and how they might fix it.
After three years of trying to solve their self-imposed debt crisis, the Jefferson County, Alabama, commissioners threw in the towel on Wednesday and declared bankruptcy. The bankruptcy, involving over $4 billion in debts owed by the county, will be costly to the banks who loaned the money, the private investors who participated in the bond offerings, the guarantors of the debt, and most especially, the taxpayers of Montgomery.
Critics of the banking system in the United States declared Saturday, November 5, National Bank Transfer Day — a grassroots movement that encouraged bank customers to switch to credit unions. The notion behind the event was to teach banks a critical lesson. The effort reportedly has had some positive impact on the credit unions; however, overall it proved to have the opposite effect on banks from what the protesters intended.
Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke’s news conference on November 2 included the admission that the Fed is depending on hope and patience to see if its continuing strategies of Operation Twist and zero interest rates will grow the economy out of recession. In his session with reporters, Bernanke defended Fed actions in the face of increasing criticism from both the left and the right.